For many years, people–including trainers–used forceful methods to train dogs not to do the things that drove us crazy. Hitting, kicking, jerking on leash, the “alpha roll” and other methods of punishment were used when we discovered unwanted behaviors. Even now, it isn’t uncommon to find these types of punishment in attempts to change behavior.
More recently, however, experts in dog behavior and training have determined both the downfalls of these methods and the upside to more positive training styles for companion animals and even those being trained for service. Simply put, positive training uses a rewards-based system to show dogs what we want them to do.
Not only does positive training produce results, but it builds a strong, long-term bond between the dog and person. It is less stressful, and it should be fun for both. There is also virtually no risk of injury. With methods using physical punishment, bodily harm to the dog can happen before the person even realizes it, or the dog could react aggressively out of fear or pain and injure the person.
Another benefit to positive reinforcement training is that it can begin as soon as you meet your dog. Because physical punishment was a component of training in the old days, a program couldn’t begin until at least six months of age.
Positive, force-free training is the most effective form of training to produce good behavior for the lifetime of your dog. Whether training basic manners or solving more complex behaviors such as house-training, excessive barking, and inappropriate digging or chewing, positive training will help you and your dog meet your goals and feel good about how you got there.